There are over 35,000 janitorial service companies listed in the Yellow Pages in the U.S.
I have spent numerous hours reviewing various websites and Yellow Page ads looking at the information building service contractors (BSCs) want to share with their customers.
Unfortunately my research reveals that virtually all of the ads say basically the same thing.
Everyone highlights the services they offer including office cleaning, complete floorcare service, carpet cleaning, window cleaning, green cleaning and frequently list intensive training for employees, licensed, bonded, insured, etc.
The list goes on and on, but they are all saying basically the same message.
Over the last 35 years I have been in the cleaning industry, the number of cleaning company owners and managers who have said to me, “Why do so many of the customers in my market judge cleaning companies on price as their prime consideration?”
The primary reason in most cases is that everyone looks the same to the customer.
There is a way for you to make your company stand heads above all of the other cleaning companies in your hometown market.
When you choose to offer your customers various services that your competition does not, it automatically puts your company in a different perspective in your customer’s mind.
I offer the following as a prime example of what you can do to make your customers view you in a different light.
It was a typical hot humid muggy afternoon in early August in Chesterton, Indianapolis, a small town of about 13,000 located about one hour southeast of Chicago.
Jack Brown, chief executive officer (CEO) of Eagle USA Inc., had started his cleaning company in 1994 after leaving a successful career in copier and office equipment sales.
As Brown was looking at the July 2011 issue of Cleaning Maintenance & Management, an article titled “Vending: The Sure Fire Way To Increase Revenue” caught his attention.
The article shared information how a commercial cleaning company in Fort Myers, Florida, had increased their sales a whopping $103,451 at one building they were cleaning in one year by offering refreshment services (vending) to the customer.
Several years prior to reading the article he had given some thought about whether or not refreshment services would be an additional service he could offer to his current customer and prospective new customers, but he never pursued the idea.
He was looking for additional customer services that would set his company apart from the other 90 janitorial companies listed in the local Yellow Pages.
It seemed as though a large number of his competitors were all offering pretty much the same services as additional add-ons.
Window cleaning, detail cleaning, lawn maintenance, carpet cleaning, stripping and refinishing floors … the list went on and on.
Yet it seemed as though they were all singing the same song.
On that fateful day in August, Brown decided to call the author of the article Gary Joyner and bombard him with questions.
The questions ranged from profit margins, how much training was needed, where to purchase not only the vending machines but also the products that go in the machines, etc.
When Brown started his cleaning business in 1994 it was a one man operation.
The business grew over the years until he had 40 employees and numerous commercial cleaning accounts in 2011.
The biggest problem when contacting new prospective cleaning customers that he seemed to hear was, “We are satisfied with our current janitorial service and are not accepting bids right now.”
There is not a lot you can say except “let me leave you my card and some literature” and hope they may call later.
After meeting with Joyner in late August 2011, and developing a marketing, advertising and sales program, Eagle USA Inc. began calling on some of its existing customers and new prospects offering free employee refreshment services, office coffee service and office water service in the local market.
One of the things that Brown found was customers who said they were not accepting new cleaning bids were willing to meet with him about the new services Eagle USA Inc. offered.
Since the vending program is free to the customer, and when Brown explained that all of his brand new, state-of-the-art electronic merchandisers would accept credit/debit cards, and employees, guests and customers could also use a $20, $10 or $5 bill in the vending machines, it was basically a no brainer to get an appointment to make a presentation.
The customers also like being able to use the electronic message board on the machines to announce employee of the month awards, company picnics, new benefit programs, etc.
Of course every free refreshment services, office coffee and office water presentation includes information on Eagle USA’s premier cleaning service program.
In less than 18 months the results have been as follows: A total of 41 new customers that required the hiring of more than 35 new employees have been added to the payroll with only five assigned to the refreshment services division and over thirty assigned to new cleaning customers. Two new management positions have also been created. This is a result of offering free refreshment services as a way to open the door for new cleaning customers;
In 2014 Eagle USA will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and anticipates having 100 employees by the end of 2014.
Due to this unprecedented growth Eagle USA has purchased a 5,000-square-foot office building/warehouse and two step vans to service all of the new accounts.
More than one new customer has made the comment to Brown that it is much easier dealing with one company for all four services — cleaning, employee refreshments, office coffee and office water service — instead of four different companies.
Brown was recently told by a customer, “You have made my job much easier, thank you, very much.”
There are varied benefits for your cleaning company when you choose to provide services that the other cleaning companies in your market do not.
One of them is the extra profit that can be earned on these ancillary services permits you to be more competitive on your cleaning bids when necessary.
Needless to say, when a customer can deal with one company for four services where they are currently dealing with four companies, you become a more valuable service provider.
Any BSC who is willing to look outside the proverbial box when searching for a distinct advantage over his or her competitors will be able to separate themselves when they choose to offer three different highly-profitable services — employee refreshments, office coffee and office water — their competitors are not.
The number of current customers who are more than likely already using these services at the present time is overwhelming.
It benefits the BSCs and their customers when they can deal with one company instead of four.
When you change the way you look at how to grow your cleaning business, the way to grow your cleaning business changes.